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K Students Gather to Support Protest in North Dakota

Students and faculty outside of Stetson in support of the Lakota Nation in North Dakota [Janelle Grant / The Index] Students and faculty outside of Stetson in support of the Lakota Nation in North Dakota [Janelle Grant / The Index].

On October 10th at Stetson Chapel, which was deemed the Day of Action for protestors at Sacred Stone Camp located in North Dakota, K students and a few faculty members were present in order to express solidarity and negative sentiments toward a proposed oil pipeline route that violates federal laws protecting the Lakota nation and their land.

The K community was informed that The Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL), which will span from North Dakota through part of Illinois is set to break ground. The attendees of the Day of Action were upset by this because much of the intended drilling areas belong to the Lakota Nation. “Imagine if someone drilled through our campus, it would be distracting and upsetting,” Jessica Magaña ’17 said. According to the handouts provided by K’s Office of Religious and Spiritual Life (ORSL), who helped to sponsor the campus event, the oil pipeline would create 450,000 barrels per day of crude oil.

The turnout for the Day of Action did not draw a large turnout from the K community, which disappointed some students. “I was a little bit surprised that the student population wasn’t larger in support of the Lakota nation at Sacred Stone Camp, especially because our campus perpetuates an ideal of solidarity and cultural understanding,” Magaña ’17 said. “Although, I wish the ORSL advertised or received support in advertising this event more; honestly, the only reason I knew about this opportunity was because Dr. Sarah Koenig spoke about its importance in class.”

“It’s really easy to think that since we are so far away, we can’t help Sacred Stone Camp. Physically, yes, many of us will not be of assistance, but it’s important to get practice where we can in being in solidarity with others,” Kaitlyn Courtenay ’17 explained. “Especially with this upcoming election, it’s even more important to put into practice being receptive of all people who share this land, [the United States], and learning ways to support one another.”

Both Magaña ‘17 and Courtenay ’17 would like to see the ORSL gain increased attendance to their sponsored events because, according to these K students, each event signifies community importance. The students also found the protest pertinent because preliminary diggings for the pipeline have already disrupted some ancestral burial grounds and began to hinder the growth of plants in the area that the Lakota nation traditionally utilizes for natural remedies.

“Community isn’t just Kalamazoo, we all have overlapping identities or circles that extend beyond our current city,” Courtenay ’17 said.

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K Students Gather to Support Protest in North Dakota